Assessing the risk of root rots in common beans in East Africa using simulated, estimated and observed daily rainfall data
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This paper seeks to establish the concept that the analysis of high temporal resolution meteorological data adds value to the investigation of the effect of climatic variability on the prevalence and severity of agricultural pests and diseases. Specifically we attempt to improve disease potential maps of root rots in common beans, based on a combination of inherent susceptibility and the risk of exposure to critical weather events. We achieve this using simulated datasets of daily rainfall to assess the probability of heavy rainfall events at particular times during the cropping season. We then validate these simulated events with observations from meteorological stations in East Africa. We also assess the utility of remotely sensed daily rainfall estimates in near real time for the purposes of updating the risks of these events over large areas and for providing warnings of potential disease outbreaks. We find that simulated rainfall data provide the means to assess risk over large areas, but there are too few datasets of observed rainfall to definitively validate the probabilities of heavy rainfall events generated using rainfall simulations such as those generated by MarkSim. We also find that selected satellite rainfall estimates are unable to predict observed rainfall events with any power, but data from a sufficiently dense network of rain gauges are not available in the region. Despite these problems we show that remotely sensed rainfall estimates may provide a more realistic assessment of rainfall over large areas where rainfall observations are not available, and alternative satellite estimates should be explored. © 2011 Cambridge University Press.
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